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DESIGN PLUS: A LOGO FIT FOR A KING

Mark Tungate 2022-09-28

The new “cypher” of King Charles III will make its mark on several familiar elements of British life.

DESIGN PLUS: A LOGO FIT FOR A KING#2

From passports to post boxes and official buildings, Brits are so used to seeing the Queen’s “E II R” monogram, or cypher, that they barely notice it any more. But the country has entered a new era, and it might take a while to adjust to the arrival of King Charles III’s cypher, which was revealed on September 27.

The new design combines C with R – “Rex”, or King in Latin – and of course the numeral III. But the design site Dezeen highlights a more unusual feature: “While Queen Elizabeth II’s cypher was topped with a representation of the St Edward’s Crown, which was made for King Charles II in the 17th century, King Charles III’s is topped with the Tudor Crown.”

This is thought to be a reference to Charles’s grandfather, George VI, whose own cypher sported a Tudor crown – a style that dates back to the reign of Henry VIII. Its design antecedents may stretch back even further than that, to the crowns of the Holy Roman Empire.

According to several sources, including the BBC, the cypher was chosen by the King from a selection designed by the College of Arms. Even the world’s greatest design agency would have difficulty competing with that organisation on the prestige front. Founded in 1484, the College of Arms creates and keeps official registers of coats of arms. Its “heralds” are all members of the Royal Household.

Apparently the monogram is already in action in the Buckingham Palace post room, where it’s being used to frank letters from the Royal Household. In the rest of the UK, the change will be more gradual: post boxes that already bear the late Queen’s symbol will remain standing until they fall to bits, basically. To give you an idea of their resilience, there are still some post boxes around from the reign of Queen Victoria.

Britons can soon expect to see new bank notes and coins bearing the new King’s image, however, although current notes will remain legal tender.

There are still some post boxes from the reign of Queen Victoria
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